Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Noncompliance of Title IX Found in Oakland/Macomb County School Districts

Forty years ago, Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to ensure equal opportunity in education for all students, from kindergarten through postgraduate school, regardless of sex.  This landmark legislation states:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
-20 U.S.C. 1681

The National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education summarized the current status of Title IX:  Girls and women have made great strides in education since the passage of Title IX.  The days when girls were told that they couldn’t take shop or advanced math are, for the most part, gone.  Females make up a growing proportion of students in many math, science, and technology-related fields. 

Given greater opportunities to participate in athletics, they are now doing so in record numbers.  They have also made gains in career and technical education at the high school and community college levels.  Time and time again, girls and women have proved that they have the interest and aptitude to succeed in areas once considered the exclusive purview of males.

Despite tremendous progress, however, challenges to equality in education still exist.  Women’s advancement in some areas, including computer science and engineering, has stagnated and even declined in recent years.  Pregnant and parenting students are frequently subjected to unlawful policies and practices that deter them from completing their education.  Nearly half of all middle and high school students report being sexually harassed in school.  And single-sex classrooms often cater to stereotypes about how boys and girls learn, to the detriment of both sexes.

These and other challenges affect the ability of all students – male and female- to get the most out of their education.  This in turn endangers the ability of U.S. schools and universities to produce skilled workers who can succeed in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

Last year, the Office of Civil Rights received nearly 6000 Title IX complaints.  That number is both astonishing and frustrating.  We must do better for women and girls.  Therefore, the Oakland/Macomb chapter of NOW has decided to take action.  We want to partner with the 51 school districts in Oakland and Macomb counties to ensure the effective implementation of Title IX. 

First, school districts were surveyed about their Title IX program.  Due to insufficient response, no conclusions could be drawn.  Next, we enlisted the help of high school interns to audit each district’s website for information about Title IX, including the name and contact information of their Title IX coordinator and the procedure for filing a complaint or grievance.  Out of 51 school districts in Oakland and Macomb counties, 13 districts had complete Title IX information, 19 districts had no information, and 19 districts had some information.  We then sent letters to each district with our findings, requested compliance with Title IX, and provided them with Title IX resources from the Office of Civil Rights.  We plan to follow-up with another audit of district websites to see if districts have complied and meet with those districts that need additional support.  Together, we can make a difference.

Written by: Martha O'Kray, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Chair of Title IX

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Michigan House of Representatives Consider Criminalizing Women's Reproductive Rights

On Tuesday (10/13/15) I attended the Michigan House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee meeting in Lansing regarding the House Bills 4833 and 4834.
These bills aim to restrict a woman's right to choose in Michigan by banning the most common and safest form of second trimester abortion. I watched the testimony of organizations and citizens from both sides; some opinions concerned and offended me, while others lifted my distress to a place of hope for equality. 
The testimony given ranged from personal opinion to best-practice recommendation(s) of medical professionals in the field, such as The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) which represents more than 950 physicians and partners in women’s health care in the state of Michigan. Personally, I was alarmed with the basic criteria regarding the introduction of these bills – not only does the current committee lack the medical experience and knowledge to give any patient a recommendation to their best individual interest, but the proposed legislation has been assigned to the committee on Criminal Justice instead of Health Policy. This concern was also shared by the representative of ACOG, Matthew T. Allswede, MD, FACOG, who testified the following:
The rhetoric surrounding these bills is inflammatory and non-medical, as reflected by the choice to review these bills in the Criminal Justice Committee, instead of the more germane Health Policy Committee. The practice of medicine is based upon research and carefully developed standards of care. Science, not political beliefs, should be the foundation of medical decision-making… I urge the Criminal Justice Committee to reject HB 4833 and HB 4834. They are unwise and unsafe political intrusions into the practice of medicine in Michigan.
This opinion was shared by multiple medical students who submitted statements here, here, here, and here, all in opposition of these bills.
Why then, is the state of Michigan even considering the implementation of restricting a woman’s right to choose the safest and best health care for her own body? The answer is apparent within the testimony given in support of the bills and the language of the legislation itself. Representative Laura Cox (Livonia) introduced HB 4833 and HB 4834 with sensational wording – “Dismemberment Abortion”. It is worth noting that this language is not used by medical professionals, who practice the proper terminology of a D&E second trimester procedure. It is also worth noting that the testimony I heard during the committee meeting in support of the bill did not reference the patient’s choice – the choice of a woman.  The female patient was not taken into account as being the primary focus; the woman’s right to choose was not even considered despite existing as a constitutional right. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan discussed the legality of choice by stating:
Every woman has a legal and moral right to exercise her constitutional right to abortion in the manner that she and her physician deem the safest and most appropriate… It is cruel and unlawful for politicians to force women to undergo less safe medical procedures simply because they may disagree with her decision.
Likewise, Mary Pollock, the Government Relations Coordinator for the American Association of University Women of Michigan (AAUW) reasoned the following in her statement:
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, dilation and evacuation abortion that these bills would criminalize is scientifically evidence-based and medically preferred because it results in the fewest complications for women compared to alternative procedures.Banning the type of abortion described in these bills will limit the ability of physicians to provide women with the medically appropriate and safest care they need, and will likely result in worsened outcomes and increased complications. Women will be put at risk and, in certain cases, it will lead to later-term abortion and more risk to the woman. Decisions about reproductive health care belong with patients and their doctors. The legislature should not interfere in this process.
These references to the woman's right to make her own decisions, especially in terms of what is best for her own individualized health care should be a concept everyone agrees on because women are intelligent, women are capable, and women are entitled to the same human rights as men.
I sometimes summarize my belief in reproductive rights with the declaration: Equality = Choice. These words are easy to say when we think of all the small and perhaps trivial choices we are given on a day-to-day basis, yet mean so much more in the context of human rights. Likewise, these words are fleeting in regards to a woman’s right to choose when politicians choose to promote their own ideologies instead of the needs of their constituents.
So read up on the bills, educate yourself, contact your representatives in opposition of HB 4833 and HB 4834, and remember that Equality = Choice.

Written by: Aj Cooke, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW Chair of Social Media

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Our Fabulous Foremothers" Presentation September 29th

Oakland/Macomb MI NOW would like to invite you to attend “Our Fabulous Foremothers.” This presentation is written and performed by Dr. Gladys Holdeman McKenney, Ed.D., who after many years of working as an educator and activist, was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Michigan Women in 2013.

This family friendly presentation will be held Tuesday, September 29th at 7 pm at the Troy Community Center in room 302 (3179 Livernois Rd., Troy, MI 48083).

There is no admission, and complimentary refreshments will be provided. Please email oakmacnow@gmail.com or call (248) 644-4392 to let us know if you can join us. 


In “Our Fabulous Foremothers,” Gladys brings to life the history of women with the use of dolls (she has sculpted) dressed in authentic clothing. The dolls have been exhibited in several Michigan museums.

Please feel free to share the event with your activist group, history enthusiasts, or anyone else who may be interested! To view the Facebook event, please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/events/867540566647619/ 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Undetected Sexism

In society, sexism is dangerously present in even the most unsuspecting places. One of these places is in school systems, specifically school curriculums. About a year ago, I saw a challenge circulating social media to read strictly female authors for a whole year. Initially, that seemed easy, but when I though about it more the more I realized that I rarely sought to read female authors and throughout my career as a student I had been assigned a disproportional amount of books written by male authors rather than female authors. That outraged me because not only have women written some of the most influential novels in history, but also they frequently wrote them under pseudonyms for fear of alienating their male readers. That is a ridiculous practice because it is not needed for male authors.

 I, as a woman, have never discriminated against a book because a man wrote it. I welcome the written perspectives of men and women, and I can relate to both, but a large amount of men do not trust books written by women. I have come to believe that this way of thinking is perpetuated by school curriculums where the default gender of an author is male. All of my English teachers in elementary through high school have been women, but I would say 90% of the books I was assigned were written by men. Between Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Golding, and Bradbury there was one Mary Shelley. Sexism is incredibly sinister, and can easily go unnoticed. Many will try to say that this is pure coincidence and that predetermined curriculums feature the great classics that the majority of our population should read. Although, would it be detrimental to society’s common knowledge of the classics to swap out F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence or J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye with Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar? These novels and their equal and female written counterparts deal with similar issues, are American classics, and contribute the same amount of knowledge to the minds of students. The breakdown of prejudices, ignorance, and socially enforced stereotypes start in classrooms, and if English curriculums are continually structured to fit an antiquated version of literature then sexism will never be eradicated.

As for me, I am in my ninth month of reading only female authors, and I have never been better. It has been transformative and enlightening. It has encouraged me to self-reflect upon the internalized misogyny that had influenced my book choices all of these years. Also, it made me think about the fact that not only was I not reading books by female authors, but none of the female written books I owned were written by women of color. It is important to acknowledge the way sexism affects women of all races, classes, and religions. In school, I had never read a book written by a woman of color, and that is a great injustice to all the talented women of color authors and to the students who are being deprived of all the different perspectives they could be experiencing. Women deserve equal representations in all mediums, especially literature.


Written By: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb County Chapter

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Planned Parenthood Video Explained

Women’s access to safe and affordable healthcare has been under attack for most of history, and within the past few years the political right has tried every fear-mongering trick to get the American public on their side. A couple weeks ago, a heavily edited video surfaced from an anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, in which a Planned Parenthood representative is seen discussing the alleged illegal “selling” of aborted fetal tissue. The video was incredibly deceptive, and had no journalistic value. It is common for healthcare providers to legally donate fetal tissue to ethical research labs with the absolute consent of the patient, and Planned Parenthood is no different. It is absurd to think that one of the largest women’s healthcare providers in America would do anything illegal to jeopardize the integrity of their organization and the trust of their patients.

As a result, the political right has used this misleading video as their main argument for why Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded. Our country is in a sad state when the majority of our politicians choose to overlook the blatant lies the Center for Medical Progress perpetuated rather than support an organization that has been helping women and men of every class and color since 1916. Planned Parenthood is more than an abortion provider. It is a healthcare provider that empowers women and men to take control of their health. Even so, abortion is a necessary service for many women. Unplanned pregnancies and children are two of the reasons so many women are in poverty or cannot lift themselves out of poverty. Abortion gives women a chance at succeeding and having some control over their destiny. Defunding Planned Parenthood would cause irreversible damage to society, especially women.

The population should not tolerate this vile hatred of women and access to women’s healthcare. Even with all the advancements women have made, society still fears an empowered woman. The greatest path to empowerment is through healthcare. The political right wants women’s progress to halt and they want women to be dependent on politicians who think they know the most about women’s bodies. It is incomprehensible why people still believe this video, which has been proven to be false and deceitful. The circulation of false information has been the biggest hurdle for many women’s rights groups. Biased groups will take anything that resembles their truth to instill fear onto the public. Thankfully, women’s rights groups and many politicians will not stand for this, and there are many women and men who tirelessly work for unhindered access to healthcare.



Written By: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb County Chapter

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Politics of Believing Women: Bill Cosby

More than twenty-five women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault and rape, but the eerily similar and disturbing stories have not been enough to gain enough support for these survivors. Cosby’s success and talents have shielded him from the backlash that should have followed after the first accusation years ago. Cosby supporters used every excuse to deny the accusations from his age to his charity work to the lack of evidence, but finally a few days ago court documents from 2005 showed that Bill Cosby admitted to buying Quaaludes to give to women he wanted to have sex with. That is not exactly an admission of rape in the eyes of the law, but for the victims it is a small victory in gaining back their credibility. 

There is a sickness within our society that prioritizes rapists over their victims. Rape is the only crime that people have a hard time believing with or without definite proof. Why is that? Why does society not believe women? It took a leaked court document to convince people that Bill Cosby is not all what he seems to be. He is not a martyr. Why would twenty-five plus women lie about the same thing? Why would a group of women choose to ruin Bill Cosby’s reputation and career if there was no truth to their accusations? Women do not lie about rape or sexual assault as much as the media makes it seem. Numerous colleagues of Bill Cosby have stood up for him just because they have only experienced his public persona. In public he is a funny, magnanimous social activist who has been a pillar in the black community, but behind closed doors something perverse and despicable has been happening for forty years.

The worst part about the discourse regarding Bill Cosby is the idea that art can be separated from the artist. This way of thinking is inherently wrong because even though the Cosby Show is iconic and transformed the way society viewed black families, at the end of the day the man at the helm of that cultural phenomenon is morally repugnant. Society should demand art be created by those who do not destroy people. It is not a big request to make that society appreciate everything good Bill Cosby did, but to leave it in the past and to see this man for who he really is, and to support the women who have tirelessly fought for the right to share their stories, and who so bravely have persevered despite the media and Bill Cosby’s lawyers using scare tactics to silence them. These women may never get legal justice, but they have survived one of the worst crimes that can befall anyone, and that is something that cannot be taken from them.

Written By: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb County Chapter


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The History of the Equal Rights Amendment

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written by Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman, and was introduced to Congress in 1923. Since 1923, many politicians and women’s rights groups, especially the National Organization for Women have fought to pass this important amendment. It is crucial that women be included in the United States constitution. There was a time when the passing of the ERA seemed possible when it passed the House and Senate in 1972. By 1977 the ERA was ratified by 35 of the 38 states needed to pass the amendment, but a cultural war was brewing that greatly hindered the progress achieved by those who worked tirelessly to ratify the ERA. Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative figure, dominated the national discourse opposing the ERA at the time it was being ratified by the states. Schlafly opposed the ERA on the basis of it being dangerous to housewives and that it threatened traditional gender roles. She used fear-mongering tactics such as saying women would be drafted into the army and that mothers would not get custody of their children in cases of divorce. Unfortunately, this proved to be successful because by the ratification deadline in 1982, five states rescinded their ratifications, and no new states had ratified. The amendment was dead.

The ERA has been introduced to every new Congress since that volatile period from 1972-1982, but has not picked up the steam it had in the 70s. Many legal analysts have maintained that the ERA remains viable even after the ratification deadline, and that the 35 state ratifications are still acceptable. As a result there have been great efforts taken to introduce the ERA in front of every new session of Congress with the promise of no ratification expiration date. Proponents of the ERA highly favor a three state strategy, meaning if three more states ratify the ERA then that will be enough to pass the amendment considering the 35 states that ratified in the 70s are still valid. This strategy is a sensible solution to a long journey that should have ended in 1982. The status of women in the constitution should not be questioned, and it should not be up for debate. The United States cannot afford to ignore half of its population. The passing of the ERA could have unimaginable benefits to society, and could change the course of history.

Written By: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb Chapter

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Film Screening: The Hunting Ground

Last night on May 20th 2015, the Oakland/Macomb chapter of NOW in association with other organizations hosted a film screen of the Hunting Ground detailing the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. The film showed an honest portrayal of the increasing occurrence and detrimental effects of sexual assault. The film focused on the victims, the victim’s families, and the valiant efforts of the young women trying to bring awareness and trying to end this horrific, but all too common crime.

There were many eye opening moments in the film, but the most disturbing was the amount of protection awarded to the accused. For any other crime the victim is always seen as the most vulnerable, who needs the most protection, but sadly in cases of sexual assault and rape, the accused is rewarded with endless support from powerful institutions. This has been an incredibly relevant issue within recent years because of the importance that sports occupy in university culture. Universities have a lot at stake if one of their star players is accused of rape, so they use all of their resources to cover up the crime. Alumni, donors, and sponsors pressure institutions like this and if the universities do not live up to their expectations, funding is pulled. This is a clear example of how money takes precedence over a human, a woman. 

The most important idea to take away from the Hunting Ground is that not enough is being done to protect students on campuses, and especially not enough is being done to help victims. Recently, a Columbia student, Emma Sulkowicz, has been actively fighting Columbia’s decision to allow her rapist to remain on campus. In protest, for the past year she has been carrying the twin size mattress she was raped on, and even carried it to graduation. Columbia’s President Lee C. Bollinger refused to shake her hand when she walked to get her diploma. What does it say about rape culture when America’s most prestigious universities fail to act in the best interest of their students? What is clear is that this issue will not be easily resolved unless the people who can force change start taking this more seriously.

Written by: Enxhi Liti, Intern- NOW Oakland/Macomb Chapter

Sources: http://www.thehuntinggroundfilm.com
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/20/nyregion/mattress-protest-at-columbia-university-continues-into-graduation-event.html?_r=0



Thursday, April 30, 2015

ENDS NOW Program: Taking Action Against Sexual Violence

The Oakland/Macomb MI National Organization for Women (NOW) resolved to take action regarding the issue of sexual violence last year after learning of the pervasive mishandling of sexual assault cases by universities. Currently 95 universities are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for their handling of sexual assault cases, including the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, and Grand Valley State University. Our chapter’s ENDS NOW (End Sexual Assault NOW) program focuses on making prevention education available for every student, and bringing justice for survivors of sexual assault.
The Centers for Disease Control (2014) has identified sexual violence as “a serious public health problem affecting the health and well-being of millions of individuals each year in the United States and throughout the world.” An estimated 19.3% of women (>23 million) and 1.7% of men (almost 2.0 million) have been raped during their lifetimes (see source). The statistics show an overwhelming number of cases of sexual violence occur before people have even graduated from high school. According to the CDC, each year since 2001, between 7.3% and 9.0% of high school students reported they had been physically forced to have sexual intercourse, while in Michigan, a 2007 study reported a rate of 10%.
The statistics on youth sexual violence are alarming and unacceptable. No one wants to believe that sexual assault could happen to our children, but the reality is that this is occurring at a rate of epidemic proportions. The CDC recommends providing age-appropriate training in healthy relationship behavior beginning at an early age before adolescents have started dating relationships, while behavior is modifiable. Local organizations such as HAVEN and Turning Point are doing a phenomenal job of forming relationships with school systems, and bringing age-appropriate prevention education programs to students. Turning Point, for example, is already in 67% of the school districts in Macomb County.
The Oakland Macomb MI NOW is seeking legislation that will make this vital education available to every student in Michigan. U.S. Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia has co-sponsored a bill called the Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which is is currently in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The Teach Safe Relationships Act would add safe relationship behavior education as a required form of sex education. It would “provide age-appropriate education that promotes safe relationships and teach students to recognize and prevent physical and emotional relationship abuse, including teen and adolescent dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual violence and sexual harassment. This includes education regarding consent as well as emotional health and well-being in relationships” (Kaine, 2015).
We are heartened to see that a bill like this has finally been introduced that could make this vital education available for even more students, but according to govtrack.us, the bill has only a 2% chance of being enacted.
We can’t wait for this bill to get through the Washington gridlock. We need Michigan to be a leader in taking on this epidemic, which is why we have begun to lobby for the introduction of a similar bill into the Michigan House.
In addition to learning how to make prevention education available for more students, we have also been focusing on what we can do to bring justice for survivors of sexual assault. In January we learned about the fundraising efforts of a local organization called Enough SAID (Enough Sexual Assault in Detroit), which was raising money to get the backlog of over 11,000 rape evidence kits tested, and have the cases investigated and prosecuted. A rape kit is used to collect evidence from a sexual assault victim in case they choose to prosecute their attacker, and can take up to 4-10 hours to perform. These kits had not been tested due to both a lack of funding, and not being made a priority due to a culture of victim-blaming. In 2009 the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office discovered the kits in a Detroit Police storage unit. Testing these kits was finally made a priority thanks to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy’s relentless efforts in pursuing this, even when other leaders wanted her to drop the issue.
Enough SAID is an independent collaboration between the Michigan Women’s Foundation, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office and the Detroit Crime Commission. A group of private foundations is financing the infrastructure for the fundraising effort, so 100% of all donations go directly to the cause. The testing of the rape kits has been completed, but more money is needed for investigating and prosecuting these cases, a cost estimated at around $10 million. The Oakland/Macomb MI NOW has created a team page on Enough SAID’s fundraising website to raise funds and awareness for this cause, and has been raising money at our events.
I will have the honor of presenting at the Michigan NOW conference on Saturday, May 30, and the MI Lead meeting on Friday, July 10 on the work Oakland/Macomb MI NOW is doing with our ENDS NOW program. This presentation will be a discussion on the pervasiveness of sexual violence, local programs providing prevention education, legislation that has been introduced to implement prevention education, the NCAA policy addressing this issue, and our fundraising for Enough SAID. We would like to invite you to join us to learn more about what we have been working on and to join the conversation.
For more information about the May Michigan NOW conference, visit http://www.michnow.org/. For more information about the July MI Lead meeting, please contact mileadcoalition@gmail.com
Written by: Michele Sedlak, Oakland/Macomb MI NOW VP of Membership

Monday, March 9, 2015

Global Attacks On Girl's Education

In recent times, international attacks on school girls have witnessed a terrifying increase, becoming a leading topic of global news. Unfortunately, the educational rights of girls and women are too often denied because this basic hum a right challenges the traditional gendered norms, which are rooted deeply into many cultures. The very act of a girl saying "no" to oppression and fighting for the control of her own life has influenced attacks in at least 70 different countries between 2008 and 20014 (Feminist Newswire). Clearly these violent acts against education, targeted primarily towards innocent girls, are not a coincidence.

As a result of fighting for their inherent right to an education, girls are becoming the victims of an unbelievable injustice. For instance, the crimes against Malala Yousafzai, Boko Haram's kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls, and acid attacks in Afghanistan are still incredibly fresh in our minds and hearts (Feminist Newswire). Turning a blind eye, choosing to believe that it will simply go away is not the answer to truly creating a change. Across the globe, even in developed nations like the US, girls are facing discrimination and acts of sexual assault in schools, decreasing their perceptions of self-worth. Furthermore, there is also a strong link between denying girls of education and child marriage, early pregnancy, and gendered based violence. Through a vicious continuation of inequality, young girls are kept subordinate to men and the patriarchal system. Yes, this is an alarming cycle full of terrible practices and actions however hope still exists. Giving girls their human right to education, is what many consider an answer to breaking these detrimental cycles, including global poverty. 

We encourage you to join this movement, help to spread awareness, and break the silence of girls who deserve to be heard. It is important to understand that by educating girls, supporting the equality of their rights, will ultimately pave the way to a brighter future - not only for them, but their families, and communities as well. Organizations like Girl Rising and UN Women, and Half the Sky are engaging people from all walks of life, expressing that this movement is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Sparking one ember of hope can burst into a flame that will thrive and create a lasting impact on our world. 

Written by: Myranda Rees, Intern - NOW Oakland/Macomb Chapter

Works Cited:
Feminist Newswire. Worldwide Attacks Against Schoolgirls Are On The Rise. 2 Feb. 2015. http://feminist.org/blog/index.php/2015/02/12/worldwide-attacks-against-schoolgirls-are-on-the-rise/



Sunday, March 1, 2015

Michigan's Abortion Restrictions

January 22, 1973 abortion became legal in the United States with the passing of Roe v. Wade. In the years following this decision states have passed a number of laws to put limitations on how a woman receives this procedure, meaning if, when, and under what circumstances it can be performed. Members of anti-choice groups have implemented attacks and created policies to restrict abortions, claiming that these limitations are necessary for the well-being of the woman and child. Ibis Reproductive Health and The Center for Reproductive Rights carefully evaluated both sides, to further understand if the anti-abortion claims translate into the state’s overall health of its women and children.

As we enter the year of 2015, within a revolutionary age of women’s activism, it is clear that Michigan is significantly lacking on their advocacy for the well-being of its mothers and children. Presented at a recent event hosted by MI Lead, a study shows that Michigan’s performance in regards to the health and socio-economic state of women and children is shockingly below the United States’ overall average. Sadly, based on evidence from various studies this lack of support for women seeking an abortion can have detrimental effects on their health, emotional, and financial situations.
Ranked with the 4th lowest score nationwide, infant and maternal mortality rates are incredibly high, in addition to the amount of women and children living in poverty. Furthermore, some may argue that this is directly related to the strong restrictions on abortion that exist in the state of Michigan, seeing how it stands as the 18th most restrictive in the U.S. (tied with Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Wisconsin). Restrictions often include mandatory waiting periods, the request of a separate rider for abortion coverage in health insurance, and the guidelines of medications given. Essentially the anti-choice policy makers have proven to be very successful in passing their proposals, stripping women of natural rights to their bodies, and a positive, healthy livelihood.

In essence, the health and socio-economic state of Michigan women is alarmingly low. Michigan stands as 40th in overall health, 21 deaths for every 100,000 live births, and responsible for 16% of women without health care. These are just a few statistics that Michigan cannot declare with pride. Additionally, when looking at Michigan’s children, while 95% have health insurance, the infant and teen mortality rates exist well above the nation’s average. Also according to the study, “one out of four Michigan children and one out of five women live in poverty” (Burns, Dennis, Douglas-Durham, 2014). Further providing support that state restrictions and failure to implement protection of women and children is most definitely present.

While Michigan lawmakers have worked to create supportive policies, especially in the areas of children’s health, education, and safety, they are failing to support pregnant women. For instance, with little access to Medicaid, family leave, disability insurance, and job protection, pregnant women are often left unprotected. Simply, the lack of protective policies is only contributing to the failing well-being of women and children.

Overall, this analysis presents indicators that clearly show while lawmakers aim to improve the well-being of women, pregnancies, and children, there is significant barriers in reaching this goal. In order to strive towards a better future, Michigan officials should focus on improving the lives of women and children, first by respecting their choices, rather than restricting needed health care services such as abortion.


Written by: Myranda Rees, Oakland - Macomb NOW Intern

Works Cited:

Burns B, Dennis A, Douglas-Durham E. Evaluating priorities: Measuring women's and children's health and well-being against abortion restrictions in the the states. State brief: Michigan. Ibis Reproductive Health; December 2014.